this trip was, by far, one of the coolest things we’ve done to date. we road tripped the central coast of california stopping in monterey, san luis obisbo, and santa barbara. we kicked off the week with a 2-day backpacking trip in big sur.we stoped at linn’s restaurant in cambria which was amazing food and only about 40 minutes from the trail head.
the highway was still closed north of jolon so we found a trail as close to the south side of big sur as possible. we ended up choosing buckeye trail based on different things we had read and a quick call to the park ranger for ventana wilderness. somehow out of all of the big sur trails we ended up with the buckeye trail! being ohio state buckeyes ourselves, we were into it (go bucks).
we used this trail map and the ventana wilderness website for trail conditions but also kept up with other hikers on reddit for current conditions. we parked at the trail head at the salmon creek ranger station. the station is no longer in use but is an easily found landmark right off the highway. once parked the buckeye trail head is just on the other side of the parking lot.
the trail is rated as Difficult and we would agree. the entire trail is 11 miles out and back but we decided with our pup and the amazing views on the first portion of the trail, 7.2 miles was all we needed.
there were two campsites we had our eye on off the tail – buckeye campground was 3.8 miles from the trail head and lower cruikshank was 6.5 miles. we decided to play it by ear but we were hoping initially to make it the 6 miles to lower cruikshank. by the time we made it to buckeye campground, partially blaming it on the dog, we decided the intense 3.5 miles we just completed were plenty.
the elevation gain is no joke. you gain 2,500 feet in 3.8 miles — so it wasn’t the length of the trail that was difficult, but with a pack, this elevation gain was nothing to mess with! that being said it was 2000% worth it. the views were straight out of a dream and i cannot describe how wonderful it was. the view was so distracting that the climb seemed like nothing.
we would recommend this trail to anyone!